This chapter in Matthew’s Gospel is not an easy one. There are so many great teachings and familiar quotes in it, but some of them are not popular. It doesn’t promise an easy life for those who are disciples of Christ; in fact it promises persecution. But in the end, it also promises reward.
Jesus is sending out His disciples out to help Him reach people with the message, “The kingdom of heaven is near.”(vs 7 NIV) He says, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (vs 8) The disciples had been walking with, talking to, and learning from Jesus for a while and it was now time for them to share what they’d been freely given. But before they went out Jesus gave them some last minute warnings and instructions. “The worker is worth his keep.” (vs 10) “Be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” (vs 16) “They will hand you over to the local council.” (vs 17) As well as many others.
But in the midst of the warnings there is this little nugget of a promise in verses 29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Gather. And even the very hairs of your head are a numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (NIV) Now numbering our hairs may be getting easier as we age, but if God knows how many hairs are on our heads, how much must He care about us. He knows our fears. He knows our sorrows. He knows our joys. He knows our needs. And He is right there with us as we live through them. I love the little poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson with the picture of our lives, and looking back at our footprints and seeing Jesus’ footprints beside ours. Then when we go through the toughest times seeing only one set of footprints, and Jesus saying “It was then that I carried you.”
God knows that this life is not easy, but he is right beside you every step of the way. And just when times get hardest, He’s there to carry you when you can’t make it on your own. “You are worth more than many sparrows.”